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A Full Calendar Isn’t a Proxy for Productivity. Here’s Why

29 Jun 2020

By Jeff Haden

A Full Calendar Isn't a Proxy for Productivity. Here's Why

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The management “technique” of making employees set calendars to public is about control, not leadership.

In the days before electronic calendars (yes, I’m old), my boss would often reach for my day planner.

“Let’s see what you have going on,” he said as he paged through to check out my schedule of meetings and activities.

It didn’t take me long to realize he viewed a full calendar as a proxy for productivity. The busier my schedule, the more effective I must be — even though I was a manufacturing supervisor whose effectiveness should have been measured by results: Productivity, quality, cost control, etc.

In fact, I was most effective when I wasn’t in meetings.The more time I spent on the floor working with production crews, the better.

One day he shook his head as he paged through nearly blank pages of my day planner. “This is disappointing,” he said. “I expect more from you.”

I couldn’t help myself. “More than having the most productive crews in our department?” I said. “And having more employees get promoted than any supervisor in any department?”

He frowned. “There’s a lot more to the job than that.”

Actually, there wasn’t.

And isn’t.

Granted, public calendars are “transparent.” But transparency isn’t the goal of public calendars.

The real goal is control: Knowing, or assuming you know, what people are doing, and when.

I’ve known plenty of people with packed calendars who accomplished relatively little. I’ve known plenty of people who worked long hours who accomplished relatively little.

Sure, they were in early, but they used that time to “settle in.” And they stayed late, but they spent that time schmoozing and BS-ing and complaining about how many meetings and calls and tasks they had on their plates.

They were at work. They were in meetings. They were on calls. But they weren’t getting anything done.

All of which is why open calendars are a terrible way to measure employee productivity.

Every job has expectations. Every job has goals, targets, and deliverables. How many meetings attended, calls made, tasks listed on a calendar… none of those things matter unless they directly contribute to meeting those goals, targets, and deliverables.

How and when the right things get done? Largely irrelevant. What matters are results.

Set all the calendars to private. Lead and manage by objective expectations and tangible deliverables, not by some sort of proxy for effectiveness.

Do that, and you’ll accomplish something just as important: You’ll show your employees you trust them.

Which means they’ll start to trust you.


Read the full article here.
This content was originally published by Inc Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Inc Magazine

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